Stefan W. Hell
Born: 23 December 1962, Arad, Romania
Affiliation at the time of the award: Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany
Prize motivation: "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy"
Field: physical chemistry
Prize share: 1/3
In normal microscopes the wavelength of light sets a limit to the level of detail possible. However this limitation can be circumvented by methods that make use of fluorescence, a phenomenon in which certain substances become luminous after having been exposed to light. In 1994, Stefan W. Hell developed a method in which one light pulse causes fluorescent molecules to glow, while another causes all molecules except those in a very narrow area to become dark. An image is created by sweeping light along the sample. This makes it possible to track processes occurring inside living cells.